The provincial government and the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council have yet to reach an agreement on the status of 950 students who were admitted to medical colleges in the province without approval.
The PMDC, at a recent executive meeting in Islamabad, decided to call the Health Secretary and the University of Health Sciences vice-chancellor to discuss the matter of 550 new seats in existing colleges and four new colleges with 100 students each.
PMDC vice president Dr Asim confirmed that the executive had decided to summon the two provincial government officers. “They have admitted students without seeking approval from the PMDC,” he said. He said the colleges have not been registered because they did not meet PMDC criteria.
Additional Health Secretary Mushtaq Ahmad Suleriya said the department was in contact with the council and that he was hopeful the council would approve the new colleges as well as the additional seats in existing colleges very soon.
A UHS spokesman said students were admitted on the additional seats on instructions from the provincial government.
Of these 950 students, 100 each are currently enrolled with four new medical colleges – Khawaja Muhammad Safdar Medical College Sialkot; Gujranwala Medical College; Sahiwal Medical College and Dera Ghazi Khan Medical College.
Two of these colleges were inaugurated by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in 2010 and the other two in January 2011.
A PMDC representative is yet to visit the new colleges for mandatory inspection before approval. The council has also not inspected facilities at existing colleges to approve the addition of seats there.
Besides, the new colleges still don’t have their own buildings, a requirement for PMDC approval. They are either holding classes at rented facilities or at other colleges.
The PMDC rules state that “opening a medical and dental college in hired or rented buildings shall not be permitted. The medical or dental institution shall be set up only on a plot of land owned by the institution and earmarked for that purpose as indicated.”
Several students admitted on these seats said they feared missing a year of their MBBS studies. They said there first year exams were coming up in September and they were still unsure about the status of their seats.
“We have been taking classes like students in other medical colleges for almost a year. If rules and regulations have not been followed at some level, it isn’t our fault,” a student at Gujranwala Medical College said. He said if there was a violation of PMDC rules, the council should take up the issue with the government but ensure that students were not affected.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2011.